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Concern over Mackinac oil pipeline

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World Pipelines,

On Wednesday 9 November, students protested Enbridge’s Mackinac Straits oil pipeline (also known as Line 5).

The gathering was arranged by the Spartan Sierra Club, the Michigan State University subsidiary of the national environmental organisation, Sierra Club.

The protest focused on the upkeep of the pipeline, stating it is unsafe and should be shut down.

The 645 mile pipeline can transport up to 540 000 bpd of oil and natural gas. A portion of the pipeline is laid underwater through the Great Lakes.

Celia Hallan, Spartan Sierra Club Campaign Manager, explained that the pipeline “was only built to last about 50 years, and it’s been in operation now for about 63 years. There is evidence that it is very highly corroded and Enbridge has no plans to fix that corrosion or replace any of the parts that have been faulty.”

She continued, discussing the difficultly of a potential clean up: “The clean up effort for Line 5, if it were to break under the Straits of Mackinac, would not be possible in the same way that a cleanup effort for, say, a pipeline that breaks on land would be.”

Group member, Roger Gauthier, agreed that the line should be shut down. “We all want the pipeline shut down, but as long as it’s still operating, we want to make sure they have the equipment onsite and trained personnel to contain the spill. Clearly, there’s not enough equipment, there’s not enough personnel.”

However, Enbridge are disagreeing with the claims the Spartan Sierra Club is making about the company’s oil spill response recourses for the pipeline. The company own eight current busters, which are used to collect oil-contaminated water. The company also purchased two brush skimmers, which the company can use to remove oil from ice in the instance of a winter oil spill.

Enbridge Regional Communications and Media Relations Supervisor, Ryan Duffy, stated: “We feel like we are prepared to respond to anything that would happen there. We have always been prepared, but we are always looking to improve and add to it … We think we are very prepared and will be even more prepared when we get our new equipment placed.”

Nevertheless, Gauthier concluded: “[Enbridge] need to decommission the line. There is no other way to put it. If they don’t decommission it, they damn well better be able to contain (a spill) within the first 12 hours.”

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